Pegasus Airlines, named for the mythical winged divine horse, has had two landing accidents, not befitting of its Greek equine roots. Two authors have written about these events. One cited the potential research that the crash offers and a second has less positive observations. Both are valid.
Accidents are tragedies, as with other negative experiences they pose opportunities to learn. The recent Pegasus runway excursion at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen airport in conjunction with its January 13, 2018 sliding off of the runway at Trabzon Airport provide information from which lessons should, no MUST, be drawn.
Ms. Negroni, a well-respected aviation journalist who has published books and many articles on accident investigations. Here are her most salient observations:
“One person was killed and many others injured when a Pegasus Airlines Boeing 737 skidded off a runway, breaking into parts and igniting. It was the airline’s third runway excursion over the past 3 years. In an ominous development, the chief prosecutor’s office announced it had started an investigation according to USA Today….
Still, the number of survivors is notable and an illustration of how much has improved in crash survivability over the past decades. Practically everything that goes into an airliner cabin is analyzed for how it will interact with the humans inside in circumstances like this. Seats, and how they attach to the floor, overhead bins, side panels and doors must meet strict standards and often must undergo dynamic testing. Evacuation slides, doors and emergency exit windows, floor lighting and the materials that will slow the spread of smoke and fire are also treated as critical life protecting equipment….
The biggest advances in cabin safety came about four decades ago when seat manufacturers were required to increase the amount of impact a seat could withstand from 9 times the force of gravity to 16. Around the same time, several accidents in which passengers survived the impact but died from the resulting fire prompted rules about what kind of materials can be used in the cabin. These changes are responsible for a significant decline in the number of fatalities in air accidents, as I reported recently for Inside Edition.
The tests mentioned:
Hale Akay, a journalist who is an independent researcher whose work mainly focuses on Turkey, brings a different perspective in her article:
An accident at Istanbul’s second airport that killed three people and injured 179 others on Wednesday was a result of errors of judgement, insufficient infrastructure investment and a stubborn ignorance of technical know-how, experts say…
Though Pegasus is a successful low-cost airline, it always values safety, the pilot said. But cost considerations might have affected the pilot’s judgment, the aviation expert said, as airline personnel receive bonuses when they minimise costs. For a 45-minute flight from Izmir to Istanbul, delaying landing for 10 minutes means increasing fuel consumption by approximately one-quarter. Moreover, that decision would probably mean the pilot would have to work for an extra hour, as he would have to file a report to the airport authorities…
The pilot who spoke to Ahval said in such instances the heavy rain made the runway more slippery and the moment the plane landed, hydroplaning may have made the brakes ineffective.
But errors of judgment do not explain why the passengers found themselves in a ditch after the accident. “All airports have runway end safety areas helping planes stop in case they skid,” said the aviation expert. But the runway at Sabiha Gökçen does not have such an area at either end. Because of surrounding buildings, the runway also makes for a difficult approach.
The airport, opened in 2002, already needs a second runway. Repairs of the existing runway can be done only at night when the airport is closed. More comprehensive maintenance work that takes weeks is impossible as there is no second runway to which to divert air traffic.
A second runway for the airport was planned as early as 2008 and construction started in 2014.
“With state support, Turkish contractors built an airport of massive dimensions in Istanbul in only four years, but a second runway in Sabiha Gökçen has not been built in five years,” the aviation expert said…
“They are preventing the completion of the second runway. Why? So that they ensure that the traffic moves to the new airport,” the aviation expert said. “Because the new airport is not a place that passengers would normally prefer. It is far away.”
The city’s previous main Atatürk Airport was shut down after the new Istanbul Airport became fully operational in April last year. Since then, Sabiha Gökçen has been working at full capacity. Many passengers try to avoid using the new airport, which has been criticised by many experts over the quality of its construction, and its location, which makes it vulnerable to strong winds, particularly from the north…
In January, another Pegasus plane veered off the side of the runway at Sabiha Gökçen. After the second and deadly incident on Wednesday, the company’s shares were down 4 percent on Thursday.
Two authors, one seeing this as a live test of crashworthiness and the second pointing at Turkish politics as being responsible for an airport, the safety of which is degrading for a favored facility. Neither notes that two runway excursions within a year should be grounds for the Directorate General of Civil Aviation ( Sivil Havacılık Genel Müdürlüğü) to reexamine the safety practices of Pegasus, in particular their pilot training!!! And then maybe address the runway needs of Sabiha Gökçen!!!
Share this article: